We step out of the car into the hot blowing dust of southern Kenya, into a different world in a different time.
A dozen stately Maasai in bright red and purple robes surround us. Ebony colored hands reach out for ours in welcome, and two different ways of life come together. Maasai means those who speak Maa, but they simply call themselves "the people".
This is not a “cultural” village where a safari company pays the people to dress up, sing and dance for tourists. We have come as personal friends of an elder. We have come to enter their life and learn their ways.
This is the family of my friend, Moses, and what a long strange trip it has been to get here.
I met Moses Pulei several years ago at the Los Angeles Adventurer’s Club. He was well dressed, articulate, and I pegged him as a successful young professional. Only later did a mutual friend tell me he is a Maasai warrior who lives part of the year in a dung hut in Kenya.
At the time, Moses was about to receive his Doctorate in Philosophy from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena where he lived most of the time with his wife Brittany, and daughter Charis. He would become only the sixth known Maasai to receive a PHD. He also speaks nine languages.
“You must visit my village sometime,” was the invitation he issued at our first meeting. Intrigued by this man who moves so easily between two very different worlds, I set this as a goal.
Just over two years later, my wife, Irene, and I are standing under a blazing August Kenyan sun shaking hands with his uncles and aunts, nieces and nephews. Moses smiles broadly as he introduces us to each person. He is dressed in a bright red Shuka (Maasai cloak) with his walking stick that no Maasai man would be without. On his feet are traditional rubber sandals made from a truck tire and he wears beaded earrings and necklace.
I am seeing my sophisticated friend from Los Angeles in his home element, and he is stately.
There are about a dozen people present and many more in the bush tending cattle.